italy Tag

hadrian's villa, tivoli, villa adriana, italy, world heritage site
  |   Articles   |   11 Comments

The old villa ruins of Tivoli

Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli, Italy Earlier this week I wrote about Villa d’Este in the Italian city of Tivoli. Well, today I want to tell you about another villa in the city. A very different one. Like Villa d’Este, this one is a masterpiece, a World Heritage Site, and an easy day trip from Rome. But they don’t look the same at all. This one is in ruins. I’m talking about Hadrian’s Villa, on the outskirts of Tivoli. It was here that the great Roman Emperor Hadrian built his retreat from the bustle of Roman life in the second century. He built it so well that he decided he liked it more than his official residence and ruled the empire from here in his later years. The compound is huge, stretching out for at least one square kilometre. Pools, libraries, temples, palaces… it has it all. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people could comfortably have...

Read More
15 November
villa d'este, tivoli, italy, world heritage site
  |   Articles, UNESCO   |   12 Comments

Tivoli’s masterpiece

Villa d'Este, Tivoli It’s not too hard to imagine what kind of man Ippolito II d’Este would have been. Born into a wealthy and influential Italian family in 1509, he was a lover of the finest things. Although he was made Archbishop of Milan when he was nine years old (the title was hereditary then), he saw the church as an instrument to be used to gain even more power. Vows of celibacy weren’t his thing. He would bring in musicians, prostitutes, feasts and wine to impress the people who needed impressing. When he was made the governor of Tivoli, he arrived in the town about 20 kilometres from Rome and did not like the look of the home that had been assigned to him. And so, in the style appropriate for someone who kept peacocks as pets, he decided to build a new and much grander residence. Nobody argued at the time...

Read More
11 November
tuscan cooking, italian cooking school, tuscany, luxury villa
  |   Articles   |   12 Comments

Over a Tuscan stove

Tuscan cooking I try first with one hand and then with two. Either way, I can’t seem to roll the dough into the smooth even cylinders I’m aiming for. The more I try, the worse it gets. “Too much pressure”, I’m told by the Italian cook. Tell me about it! I feel like everyone is watching me as I literally make a mess of this meal. Although the ‘pressure’ he’s referring to is coming from my hands. I ease up a bit and the dough starts to resemble something a bit closer to the expected. It’s gnocchi that I’m trying to make. After mashing potatoes, mixing them with flour and kneading the combination into a big lump, I’m now at the crucial stage of turning the mass into small pieces to be cooked. Luckily there’s an expert at hand to give me some instruction (and probably fix my mistakes if all goes too...

Read More
30 September
Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari, Modena, ferrari museum, italy, cars (2)
  |   Articles   |   22 Comments

“Cars are only beautiful when they win”

Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari, Modena In the vast stadium of fluorescent light, the cars look like glowing orbs of style. Raised on low platforms, each machine is given a respectful space from the others. Despite the name, this is not a museum. This is more a shrine… and everything is set up to allow visitors to worship. For car enthusiasts (I’m not going to pretend to be one), Ferrari is one of the gods. Like religion generally, there are many faiths – but devotees of each believe fervently in theirs. It is no different with cars and Ferrari has one of the largest and most faithful congregations in the world. The Enzo Ferrari Museum in the Italian city of Modena is built on the site of the man’s birthplace. But it is only partly about Enzo Ferrari and his life. You see, his life became the car brand (not just in name) and...

Read More
07 January
cheap tuscany, tuscany accommodation, tuscan food, cheap, affordable, budget (5)
  |   Articles   |   20 Comments

How to visit Tuscany cheaply

Cheap Tuscany, Italy It’s no surprise that one of the most popular regions of Italy is also one of the most expensive. Between accommodation, food and sites, you can really burn through the euros on a trip to Tuscany. But the good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way - it is possible to travel Tuscany on the cheap. By accident, I discovered a way to keep the cost of visiting Tuscany right down. And the bonus? Well, it might actually be better suited to your style of travel as well. Introducing… dramatic drumroll… the hostel in the countryside! Cheap Tuscany accommodation In the quiet little village of Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, the hostel is one of the largest buildings. That’s not to say it’s large, more that everything else is appropriately proportioned for a village. It’s called the ‘Ostello del Chianti’ and a bed in a dorm will cost only 16...

Read More
08 July
ferrara, italy, planned city, unesco site, emilia romagna (2)
  |   Articles   |   2 Comments

Withstanding an earthquake

Ferrara, Italy It was early in the morning when the earth shook Ferrara awake. Nature has no regard for history, for architecture or for heritage. The planet is bigger than them all and it strikes indiscriminately. The day after the earthquake struck Italy's Emilia Romagna region, at 5.9 on the richter scale, I visited the city. Cracks were on the walls, small piles of rubble still on the ground, and barricades erected by emergency services around buildings in danger. Thankfully the damage was minimal, with only minor structural damage. Thankfully, because Ferrara is known worldwide as one of the finest examples of city planning. In its streets, quite literally, is the inspiration for many modern cities today. Ferrara was the first planned city of the renaissance and the first in Italy not to follow the traditional Roman principles. It had two major perpendicular avenues the design was based around, wide roads to accommodate traffic...

Read More
06 July
Verona, Italy (5)
  |   Articles   |   21 Comments

In fair Verona, where we lay our scene…

Verona, Italy Until recently, my knowledge of Verona was limited purely to the many hours as a teenager being forced to study Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Any beauty in the city that could have been imagined was always tempered by the adolescent resentment of the schoolwork. To visit Verona as an adult and be free of burden of essays and exams felt like discovering it anew. In tribute, it felt like a prologue of that experience was necessary. Two hours spent, both a like of the city In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From school begrudge break to new scrutiny, Where civilian eyes makes civic lands unseen. From forth the fatal lines that once were foes A place of stars, crosses and love brings new life; And Verona adventure overthrows That feel of death buried under study’s strife. The near-full passages flow free with mark'd love, And the ancient buildings show...

Read More
03 July
andrea palladio, architecture, vicenza, italy, palladian, teatro olimpico, olympic theatre (9)
  |   Articles   |   11 Comments

The architect’s stage in Vicenza

Architecture of Vicenza, Italy I have one favourite architect – Ted Mosby. The problem is that he’s fictional (and that the terrible television reference was probably lost on half of you). So, I’ve been thinking for a while that I should have a real person as my favourite. After a visit to the Italian city of Vicenza, Andrea Palladio is moving up my list. I had never heard of the guy before. If you hadn’t either, don’t feel too bad – he did die in 1580. But his work in Vicenza led to a whole style of architecture called Palladian. And he has influenced some of the most famous buildings in the world… ever heard of a little one called The White House, for example? There are 26 buildings in Vicenza and surrounds that have been attributed to Andrea Palladio. With his work, he has effectively painted the façade of the city in...

Read More
28 June
botanic garden padua, oldest botanic garden, veneto, padua, italty, botany, history of botanic science (7)
  |   Articles   |   25 Comments

The first botanical garden

The Padua Botanic Garden, Italy There was a time when the botanical garden at Padua was the biggest in the world; when it was the greatest in the world; and when it was the only one in the world. None of those things is true these days. But like the soil in the garden that brings life to the rare and exotic plants, the idea behind the site at Padua was to be the foundation for all future botanical gardens around the globe. It was the first to ever be created and it changed the way humans and plants interacted when it was opened in 1545 in the north-eastern Italian city. The Padua Botanical Garden was created for scientific research – the same thing it is still used for today. Back then it was mainly about medicinal uses for the plants but over the centuries it has played its part in the evolution...

Read More
26 June